Know when to quit

Posted by on Jan 13, 2012 in Career Management | 29 comments

I admit it, I’m a quitaphobe- the opposite of a commitaphobe! I am enthusiastic and excited when new opportunities present themselves and I can usually be convinced to take on new commitments. Often, I’ll even volunteer.

My personal growth has helped me learn to say no, and yet “no” continues to be difficult for me when I’ve already made a commitment, even when quitting is the best choice for my health and happiness.

As I practice releasing limiting thoughts and behavior, I am reconsidering my current commitments and committing to work-life balance instead.

I am responsible for my own health and happiness, and my success depends on making choices that align with my values and intentions.

I have the option to reassess my situation and make changes as needed. Sometimes I need to adjust my activities and focus on what’s really important to me.

After months of considering my options and feeling stressed and overwhelmed, I finally made a commitment to myself and resigned two volunteer positions. Honoring myself in this way feels great!

If you’re struggling with quitting a commitment, quitting a job, quitting a habit, or quitting an activity, here are some helpful questions to ask yourself.

Am I having fun?
Few things in life are worth doing if you’re not having fun! We tend to think of work as work, but life should be fun, too. If you aren’t having fun, and what you’re doing isn’t absolutely necessary, then why are you doing it?

Do I feel motivated, or burned out?
Why do something that doesn’t light you up? The last thing any of us needs is to spend our time, money and energy doing something that leave us feeling exhausted and drained. If you don’t feel motivated by what you’re doing perhaps it’s time to quit!

Does it align with my goals?
Let go of any activities that aren’t helping you achieve your personal and professional goals and spend your mental, emotional and financial resources where they matter!

Am I doing this for myself, or someone else?
You are responsible for your own life. You can do your best and someone else still may not like or approve of you. The best you can truly do is to be true to you!

Do I have it to give?
You can’t give what you don’t have. Take care of you, fill up your cup, and give what you have leftover.

If a commitment, job, habit or activity isn’t helping you live your best life, it may be time to quit!

it's okay to quit

I love your comments! Tell me about something you quit! How did it make you feel?

Image courtesy of YanivG

29 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post. My problem is actually not to make the decision to quit, but to say it. I mean I feel so awful to tell someone that I want to quit a commitment that I have made. Especially when it’s voluntary. Recently, I said ‘yes’ to an old friend for participating in a theater project she is directing and really enthusiastic about. It has been a few months but I’m really not having fun… I was expecting to have fun and feel good about it, but I just couldn’t enjoy the rehearsals, the team, and now it feels like I’m attending it out of necessity. Now I want to quit but I don’t know how to say it to my friend, because she is so sensitive about the play and one actor already resigned. I feel like I will let her down and it feels awful… But I know I shouldn’t continue something voluntary that is supposed to make me happy but doesn’t.

    • Thanks for your comment, Elsa! I also sometimes worry about letting people down or disappointing someone else. That’s certainly a tough position to be in- especially when you care about the person you fear you’ll let down.

      At the end of the day you are responsible for your happiness and your friend is responsible for hers. As much as I often feel obligated to others, it can sometimes help to remind me that I’m only truly obligated to myself. Sometimes I choose to do something I don’t want to do to help someone, but only if I’m giving resources I have to spare.

      If you back out your friend may well be disappointed but it sounds like at the end of the day one of you is going to be disappointed- you if you continue with the project or her if you back out. Which disappointment can you live with?

      Good luck! I’d love to hear how it works out.

      Chrysta

  2. Hey Chrysta,

    I can get really wrapped up in helping others, really more than I should, so I’m told. But that’s rewarding for me, so I tend to just do it without thinking.

    Saying no is hard though, especially when you know something you’re doing isn’t fruitful, but if you love doing it, it can be a tough decision.

    Your questions ARE helpful. They do force you into doing some soul searching and that’s really what we need. The hard part though is taking solid action :-)

    Bliessings,
    Liz
    Liz McGee recently posted…How To Get Google To Trust Your SiteMy Profile

    • Thank you for your heartfelt comment, Liz!

      I believe there’s fruit in doing something you love, even if you aren’t getting the results you wanted. Loving what you do is a wonderful feeling!

      I recently let go of an opportunity to do something that was very important to me but wasn’t yielding the results I needed. I decided to stick with it because it was important to me, even if I wasn’t getting out of it all that I’d hoped. Eventually I did give it up because my health declined and I knew I had to give up something. Still, at my mentor’s suggestion, I found other ways to give to the cause that’s important to me.

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Have a wonderful day!

      Chrysta

  3. This is exactly what I needed! I’ve been wanting to leave a volunteer job but didnt know HOW to! This is the questioning and info I’ve so needed.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Thanks so much for your awesome comment, Tavia!

      I’m sorry it took me so long to reply- I have been recovering from surgery which kept me away for a bit. Anyway, I’m so happy my experience helped you quit a commitment that wasn’t working out for you. Life is too short to spend time doing something that isn’t making life awesome. If one volunteer opportunity isn’t right for you, no doubt there’s another one out there that you’ll love when you’re ready for it!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  4. I Loved this post Chrysta!

    It’s probably a topic that many of us can relate to. So often when people have approached me for help with time management, I have had to gently alert them to the fact that what they really require is to work on ‘self management’.

    The reason they can’t manage their time is because they are trying to do too much in the time they have available.

    Fortunately it takes one to recognize one so I can spot the problem easily! I tend to be an all or nothing type guy so often find myself over-committing and then having to re-adjust. Thankfully the time that it takes me to realize this is a lot shorter these days than it used to be.

    I love the questions you suggest to help one decide whether it’s time to quit. To add to yours I also often ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” and then I stay quiet and listen to hear what comes up. If it;s anything other than “Because I want to.” I know that I am usually doing it to please someone else and I can drop it immediately.

    Thanks for dealing with this topic so brilliantly!

    ~Marcus
    Marcus Baker recently posted…Stop Comparing Yourself With OthersMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Marcus!

      I can relate to “taking one to know one” when it comes to over-committing. It seems everything highly motivated, thoughtful and purposeful person I know shares this quality. Fortunately we are also thoughtful enough to learn to treat ourselves and others with enough kindness to recognize when we are in over our heads and can’t give our best to commitments.

      I love that your suggestion to focus on self-management over time management. All too often we look outward for fixes to our problems- time, money, romance, etc., when the answer to better living is found within. Whatever I want in my life, I find I must meet that need for myself first. I must look inward before I can look outward.

      I also love your question to determine if it’s time to quit! “Why am I doing this?” is such a powerful statement! Thank you for your insightful suggestion!

      It’s always a pleasure, Marcus. Thanks for stopping by. Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  5. Hey,

    I recently quit a corporate job I was totally dissatisfied with. Though it made me nervous because I didn’t have any job to fall back on; I knew I just had to do it somehow! I had to get away from all that chaos. It is tough to make a decision to quit. But it fills you with a sense of relief.

    Now, into a new job I am feeling much better. Though this pays less, it keeps me happy! And that is all that matters!
    Hajra recently posted…Will they call you over for a bloggers party?My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Hajra!

      Congratulations on quitting a job that wasn’t working for you and finding one that does. I have been there, too, and I agonized over quitting a job that wasn’t right for me without another job lined up.

      I stayed far too long at the job that wasn’t working out and when I finally quit I found a new job that was a good fit after a short unemployment. I definitely made the right decision!

      My reasons for quitting were greater than simply not liking the job I had- it was leaving me feeling emotionally and mentally drained. I wasn’t able to put my best foot forward in my job search or my life as long as I stayed in that situation.

      Many people think they want outward signs of success, and I think what they really want is to be happy and they believe these outward signs of success will make them happy. Perhaps for some they do, but that certainly hasn’t been my experience.

      I’m so happy to hear you are happier now. You’re right, that is what’s important!

      Chrysta

  6. I’m very similar to you, Chrysta. UGH! It’s so hard to say no…especially to a “good” opportunity. I just finished writing an article about how to do exactly that…mostly because I needed the advice myself. Really appreciate your insight and commitment to “Just Say No!”

    So helpful to know there are others out there on the same path as I am
    Steve Rice recently posted…A Tough Pill to SwallowMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Steve! It’s so great to get to know you through your guest post over at Deeone’s blog.

      I have written two articles about saying no, and it’s a topic I keep coming back to again and again. I have heard it said some of us are learning to say no and some of us are learning to say yes. I know fewer people learning to say yes and as I interact and engage with highly motivated individuals, I find saying no is a common challenge for those of us that are passionate about living a great life as we are apt to commit ourselves to exciting new opportunities.

      I really loved your guest post on Releasing Me Today and look forward to reading your article about saying no on your blog.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

      • It has been a joy meeting you too. The “no”article will be posted on another friend’s site, but I’ll let you know when it goes live.

        I do have another along a similar vein at my friend Melody’s blog at deliberateblog.com if you wanna check it out there. It’s more about how to say “no” and manifest a different circumstance when we face adversity.
        Steve Rice recently posted…002: AWAKE! – The Missing PieceMy Profile

  7. Hi Chrysta,

    These points are really cool. I am also like you in the sense that once I give my commitment I do not back off.
    In my last business however, I felt burnt out and was not enjoying at all because I never got the kind of customers I wanted. Most of the customers I met were really very price conscious and often bargained too much.
    I wanted to provide them value but they were not interested.
    I was not enjoying the business that I started with so much hope. Soon I burned the cash and since I was not enjoying it too, I quit. I think I did right and I do not regret that because then I got into blogging which I am really enjoying.
    Sometimes we need to take the call when needed.I agree with the reasons you have put above
    Ashvini recently posted…The entrepreneur and the businessmanMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Ashvini! I’m always pleased to hear from you!

      It certainly sounds like you made the best decision possible quitting the business that wasn’t working for you, and taking up blogging.

      I used to think that quitting was a bad thing to do, and so I hung on to situations that weren’t working too long. I’m so happy to be relieved of that belief today! What’s really amazing to me is how much growth and achievement I’ve enjoyed since I truly started to honor myself instead of hanging on to a bad situation.

      Thanks again for your comment! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  8. I have the same problem when it comes to certain things.

    My eyes are bigger than my abilities/time quite often. So I take on projects around the house or at work that I simply have no way of finishing.

    Recently I’ve gotten better at this and these tips will help me complete that.

    Thanks,

    Bryce
    Bryce Christiansen recently posted…Are You Wearing Camo to Work And Don’t Even Know It?My Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Bryce!

      I am grateful I’m making progress when it’s time to quit, as well as making progress on recognizing my limitations before I take on something new. My enthusiasm can definitely get the better of me from time to time!

      Taking on too much is quality many of us share- especially those of us that strive for bigger and better things. I’m also grateful we can learn from each others and share a little bit of wisdom when we get it.

      Have an awesome day!

      Chrysta

  9. Good day Chrysta,

    Wonderful post, my friend. I have been a poster child of over committing myself and not knowing when to quit in the past. I’m still fine tuning this learning curve, I guess mainly because I have such a love for people and would go out of my way to please them and make them happy. It took me learning the hard way that people pleasing is a disservice we provide to people and an indication that we don’t care as much for our own well-being as we’d like to think we do.

    It wasn’t until I begin to take self-inventory of myself that I was able to be honest and open about my true feelings. As soon as I did this, it became easy almost overnight to not over work myself by putting other’s before me and my goals. It was extremely liberating.

    I used to be a “repeat offender quitter”. It seemed everything I started I would seem to never follow through with. It wasn’t until later that I understood the reason for this… I would have said yes to so many things and people that I set myself up to the point that I couldn’t finish.

    Now, I know better and I’m now able to practice better habits and follow through with what I started. Amazing the things we learn to improve when we open ourselves up to what and how we are doing them poorly or wrongly.

    Good advice and great tips, Chrysta. Thanks for sharing these with us. :)
    Deeone recently posted…Releasing My MindsetMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Deeone!

      Many of us that desire a great life have over-committed ourselves. I have so many great ideas and inspirations, and I want so much to leave the world a better place that I sometimes forget to check in with myself before agreeing to something new. I’m learning, too.

      My old pattern was to work myself into the ground when I over-committed myself. In the past few years I’ve become more of a repeat offender quitter. I’m practicing being gentle with myself while I try different choices and seeing what works and what doesn’t work as well.

      What’s truly liberating for me is realizing that choosing to quit, or choosing to say no in the first place, is a self-loving action. I don’t have to feel guilty or shamed when I know I’m acting from a place of self-love and self-care.

      It’s always a pleasure, my friend!

      Chrysta

  10. If we could only help everyone all the time, life would be so much more rewarding wouldn’t you agree? But over committing yourself will like you said, just wear you out and then you’ll be no good for anyone, let alone yourself.

    I love how you broke these down for us and I have a feeling it will come in very handy for those who may possibly be having some of these same issues.

    I have a hard time saying no still but I’ve been learning too. I’ve actually done quite well these past six months so obviously I’ve come a long way too.

    Glad to see that you are taking care of Chrysta. You just have too big of a heart my wonderful friend.
    Adrienne recently posted…Do You Have A Facebook Fan Page?My Profile

    • Thanks for your lovely comment, Adrienne!

      I absolutely agree I’m good to no one if I’m not good to myself! Over-extending myself isn’t helping anyone. My 2012 goal word, RELEASE, was a factor in making the decision to resign 2 of my volunteer positions so I can focus on living a great life, which includes taking care of me.

      I’m also making progress on saying no. My enthusiasm, optimism and motivation have allowed me to over-commit myself unintentionally, and I’m working on being more mindful of seeing situations as they are. It helps to consider my time and energy the same way I consider financial obligations, looking not only at my current situation, and also budgeting for vacations, wellness and emergencies.

      I am so grateful for your friendship and support, Adrienne! Have a wonderful day!

      Chrysta

  11. Hi Chrysta,

    Great advice there, and it normally takes some kind of extreme event to make us realise we are not always doing what is best for us.

    Me? I always have a problem saying no to people if they want help, or a favour of some kind. I know sometimes I should put people a bit more at arms length, but we are who we are.

    I must make a determined effort to try to say no more often if what I am being asked is going to cause disruption,

    Barry
    Barry Ranns recently posted…My First JV Giveaway EventMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Barry!

      I have found I will continue to behave in the same manner until the situation reaches an unbearable extreme. I believe while many of us consider making positive changes, as long as a situation isn’t critical it’s far too easy maintain the status quo. Sometimes I look back and realize there were many signs that a situation wasn’t working and I failed to heed the warnings. I’m learning to be more aware of myself and my situation.

      I, too, have difficulty saying no to a direct request for help. Though I know sometimes saying no is honest and loving to myself, and I cannot do anyone good if I’m not good to me. Learning to say no, set boundaries, and let go is a process.

      Thanks again for your comment. Have a great day!

      Chrysta

  12. So true Chrysta and good for you for honoring yourself. When we feel truly inspired to do something that is great but when the inspiration and desire to do it becomes a chore or burden it is time to move on.
    Justin Mazza recently posted…How to Grow a Positive MindsetMy Profile

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Justin!

      I agree it’s usually time to move on when anything we do becomes a burden. Though I have been in situations that my perspective was negative and created a burden. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to grow a positive mindset as you just wrote about on your blog! Gaining perspective and recognizing my truth is also an important step in living a great life.

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

  13. It took a “restructuring” and a breakdown for me to realize just how miserable I was. I am a slow learner. When my corporate job started getting unbearable, I ignored all the signs of impending doom and tried to make myself indispensable. What a waste! Then I rushed into an equally untenable position without taking any time to rebalance myself. It took a couple of weeks in the hospital and 5 years of therapy for me to get to the much healthier place I am now. Thanks to a fabulous husband and super supportive family & friends, I am doing much better. I have started selling my creative goods (very slowly) and am learning to love myself again and to trust myself to know when enough is enough.
    Lynda recently posted…ReleaseMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Lynda!

      More than once in my career I tried to hold onto a job that wasn’t working and it seems I only made myself irritable and unreasonable in doing so.

      I was laid off a few years ago and also rushed into a position that was not a good fit. I stressed over quitting until I realized my sanity was more important than having a job just for the sake of having it. So I quit! Fortunately I was able to find a job that was a good fit before too long.

      Quitting that job was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because I was truly miserable at that job. No amount of gratitude lists, positive thinking, or working hard were going to make right something that was all wrong! Ah well, lesson learned!

      I’m happy to hear you are in a better place now, and able to love and trust yourself!

      Chrysta

  14. Good post Chrysta. A lot of people have trouble quitting when it’s the right decision. This only leads to more pain and suffering. In economics, they call it “sunk costs fallacy.” In other words, we keep devoting our resources to things that don’t benefit us, hoping to turn our “investment” around. Unfortunately, all that happens is we continue to waste resources on these bad “investments.”

    I think this applies to anything we devote attention to in life.
    Steven | The Emotion Machine recently posted…Perspective-Taking: A Tool for Building Stronger RelationshipsMy Profile

    • Thanks for the awesome comment, Steven!

      I love your comparison between commitments/jobs/habits and investments because everything we do is an investment in ourselves!

      All that we consume, how we spend our time and energy, as well as how we treat ourselves is an investment in our own well-being. Personally I’d rather be well than sick, and in the past I made myself sick by not honoring what I wanted and needed, and not taking care of me.

      I have kept commitments in the past hoping to turn my investment around and somehow make a profit, but any wise business person knows you’ve got to be flexible, adaptable & innovative to stay successful. Businesses must manage change effectively or they won’t stay in business long, and it’s the same for individuals.

      I love what you’ve shared and thank you for sharing it! Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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